September 9, 2018 at 11:24 pm #246567
Hello all, let me start of by labeling myself as a DEFINITE beginning rider. I rode tons as a kid/teenager but mostly on road and very mild trails. I decided to get into it more seriously a few years ago but never really had the time to ride. Despite this, I have ran through quite the gauntlet of bikes…most of which never even hit the trails. I first bought a 2003 Kona Stinky DeeLux which I had no intention of even taking on the trails, just riding around town with my girlfriend and our son. I ended up trading the bike off after several months of not riding it, only to buy it back about a year later (and I still own it). In the interim, I demoed a buddy’s bike, a 2015 Diamondback Mission 2. It was a killer bike but just felt too big for me, I am 5’10” and this was an XL bike. So I passed and ended up buying a 2013 (I believe) Specialized Status 1. This also seemed like a really rad bike, but never made it to the trails. It was a Medium frame, 1×9 drivetrain, and as I came to learn, a DH bike (something I didn’t know about my Stinky at the time either). At first I thought I would make the best of it and added a dropper post to hopefully lengthen my pedaling stroke (technical term? lol). While it did help, riding around town it still felt too small. So I sold this bike and impulse bought a brand new large 2017 Santa Cruz Tallboy 27.5+. This bike did actually see some trail time and felt pretty good. However, it spent more time in the stand than on the trails and, shortly after having a second child, I decided we could use the money more than the bike. A few months passed and I was feeling the bug again, but this time I wanted a hardtail as I figured I would do more on road riding than trail, but still wanted something capable if I felt the need. Having really enjoyed the plus sized tires on my Tallboy, I wanted plus again. I test rode (not demoed…read “rode around the block a few times” lol) several bikes, in different sizes, and settled on a new 2017 Specialized Fuse Comp 6Fattie…size medium. It was during this period of ownership that I found my old Stinky up for sale and decided to buy it back. While the Fuse felt like a great fit on the road, I was fairly certain it would be too small on trails. This, however, was not the reason I got rid of it. My girlfriend and I were beginning to ride a lot more and her current bike was not very comfortable for her. Being that I had my old Kona back, we agreed I didn’t need two bikes so we sold the Fuse in order to buy her a new bike. All of our riding got some family members interested and, to cut an already long story a bit short, I got a couple of them interested in MTB riding. There were not enough bikes to go around and with one member not able to afford one (and leaving soon for the Navy), I decided to spring for another bike for myself so that we could have an extra for anyone who wanted to go riding. Again making a bit of an impulse buy, I picked up a 2018 Kona Cinder Cone, but at least this was a size large. Now, the limited amount of trail time I have has been spent on full suspension bikes. In fact, just the weekend before, we had ridden the same area that I crashed in (finally getting back on topic!) and my Stinky felt fantastic! The day I bought my Cinder Cone, we rode this area again but explored some new trails. We found a pretty good rolling jump and after some “expert” analysis decided to hit it. I came off the jump with my front end too high, crossed up my bars as I came down, slammed on my left side and slid for what seemed like an eternity over hard pack and through some briers. I got pretty banged and scratched up but I have very much had far worse crashes in my life having ridden quads and dirt bikes for years. So, here is my quandry…even on the road, I no longer feel comfortable on my Cinder Cone. We rode for about an hour after I crashed that day and went out for a few hours the next day on some more difficult trails, which I didn’t feel very comfortable on either. I feel as though my mind has equated the crash not necessarily to the Cinder Cone specifically, but to the hard tail. Damn near everything I’ve read about the Cinder Cone ranks it pretty high as a capable, well rounded bike so it all has to be in my head, right? Maybe I didn’t give myself the time to adjust to the hard tail after spoiling myself with full suspension? Or maybe my skill level just wasn’t up to par for the riding…but I have ridden tougher trails, and done bigger jumps on my Santa Cruz and on my buddy’s Mission. Is there some validity in all of it? I mean, full suss vs hard tail, they definitely don’t ride or handle the same. Either way, what can I do to get out of this rut?? Or at least get this stigma out of my head…that my hard tail is unbalanced or incapable? I’m sure “get out and ride!” is at the top of the list, but what other advice does anyone have? Anyone else had a similar experience? Thank you all in advance for your time and input! I will try to keep it more brief in the future, lol.
September 10, 2018 at 9:29 am #246578
Having never ridden a full suspension bike I don’t know what kind of bad habits could be developed that the bike forgives. Hopefully someone else can answer that.
My crashes have come when I didn’t expect it. Most recently still battered and bruised from a rock I didn’t see and separately a root that I didn’t respect. I don’t do jumps because my bike can’t take the abuse but more importantly I don’t have a good bunny hop in my toolbox.
If I was you, I would take a step back and work on manuals, bunny hops and table tops before jumping again.
September 10, 2018 at 9:40 am #246579
Last year I got a new bike from Salsa and actually decided to read the manual that came with it. The manual stated in clear terms about downhill jumping and free riding “If you engage in this sort of extreme aggressive riding you WILL get hurt”. Their point being that the only people who never fall on technical downhill stuff are probably those who never ride it. Clearly full suspension bikes make it safer but a fall can happen on any bike. It’s why we wear helmets and most enduro racers use knee and elbow pads. I realize this doesn’t solve your problem but I think falls are a risk you assume if you ride those lines. I personally walk bad sections, but I’m 68 (which makes me way more cautious than I would have been decades ago), when bones break rather than bend and I don’t want to contribute to an orthopedic surgeaon’s retirement fund. Just my opinion but falls are part of the deal if you do that stuff. Better riders than I might disagree.
September 10, 2018 at 12:36 pm #246600
ronnied82: Crashes happen to all of us. If you mountain bike you will crash… it’s inevitable. Sometimes it’s when we’re pushing our limits or tackling something new but many times it happens on something relatively tame. That could be the result of fatigue, loss of focus, complacency, poor technique, sloppiness, etc. While it’s clear that different bikes ride differently I don’t believe the issue you described is really in the bikes or the HT vs. FS but much more likely due to skills and technique particularly in the way you describe what led to the crash. Having your front end too high or low is s a function of balance and technique. In fact, a FS bike can actually exacerbate that effect (depending on both set up and technique).
With all that said, it’s a psychological thing. You do have to “get back on the bike”. Start by riding easy trails. Get comfortable on just basic stuff like balance and cornering. Start riding slower than you’re used to focusing on technique. You can increase your speed as you feel more and more comfortable. As your confidence increases practice simple things like riding off curbs or bunny hopping over small obstacles at a park. Some people add extra protection like elbow and knee pads (in the short term) in addition to a helmet and gloves until their confidence improves. You can also sign up for a skills clinic and learn the basics. Many of us don’t, we tend to learn through our mistakes 😉 Your goal should be to get yourself back to that same rolling jump and nail it! I broke my wrist several years ago after clipping my bar on a tree while riding a skinny elevated about 8ft. It really crushed my confidence at the time but I eventually got up the courage to ride it again just to prove I could.
But crashes aside, I think the bigger problem to address is the impulse buying 😉 Lol.
September 10, 2018 at 2:38 pm #246606
I have a new Turner Flux with the new lower sitting position geometry that I bought I April, just turned 65. My old bike, a Turner Burner ’04 I had plenty of crashes on but never a serious one. But on the new bike zero crashes!!! I’ve been taking aggressive lines and cleaning stuff with the bigger wheels that stopped me many times. It’s the bike.
September 10, 2018 at 2:47 pm #246607
September 10, 2018 at 9:37 pm #246638
The way you describe the crash with the front end too high, I’m not sure a full suspension bike would have made much of a difference. If you had cased the jump and the shock was setup properly, then maybe…. I have ridden both a full suspension bike and a hardtail and I actually much prefer my hardtail to the point that I’m essentially selling the full suspension. A poorly setup full suspension bike can be worse than a hardtail, like when some people have the rear damping faster than the front. I’ve seen people land from jumps or cross logs and have the rear end kick them over the bars. With a hardtail, the rear damping is always “dead” so the rear end will rarely kick up violently. It may not track as well over roots or on technical climbs as well as a nicely setup up full suspension bike but it’s more idiot proof.
September 10, 2018 at 10:51 pm #246643
Thank you all for your input, I truly appreciate it!! Additionally, thank you for taking the time to read through that post!! lol I thought it looked lengthy on the computer last night when I wrote it, but then I looked at it on my phone this morning…wow!
vapidoscar562 and rmap01: Sound advice for sure!
I finished work early today so after I got home, I decided to take some time and go out and get a little practice in…just riding up and down the street, hopping off curbs, hopping back up, manuals, manuals off curbs, and in general just getting used to the bike. I already feel much better (by no means 100% ready to go back and show that roller who’s boss, lol), but still had a few squirrely landings here and there which I attribute to my rear tire pressure. I could feel the tire folding over as I would land on the side walk after paralleling on the street and hopping up at speed. Brought it back into the garage and it was down around 20psi, after setting it to approx 30psi before my little practice sesh. I’ll have to keep an eye on it to see if there’s a slow leak. I also intend to look into some skills clinics as I find proper instruction combined with practical exercise is one of the best ways for me to learn.
breathinghard: I very much understand and agree that falls and crashes are bound to happen if you ride long enough. I don’t think I’m invincible or immune by any means (not that you’re saying that), but more so I understand that I don’t have enough experience to determine if the type of bike was a contributing factor.
rmap01: Aside from what I said above, I am grateful that I always wear protective gear to one extent or another when I ride the trails. MINIMUM is helmet and gloves, though I do have knee and elbow pads as well but was not wearing them that trip. Had I been, I would not have a good half dollar sized patch of essentially road rash on the outside of my left knee.
abegold: Congrats on the upgrade!! I agree with you in the sense that many of us have or will start out on an “entry level” bike, and a time will likely come that the enhancement of your skills/abilities may be limited if you don’t upgrade your bike as well (you likely won’t become a pro level DH rider on a hard tail Huffy). That being said, I tend to side with rmap01…it certainly wasn’t the bikes fault, it was my experience level in general and my disregard for my skill set. The fact that my buddies and I dissected it for at least 15 min (our “expert” analysis that I mentioned before, lol) before deciding to go for it should have been enough for me to say, “eh, maybe another time”.
Well, that may not have been as brief as I promised before but since you all took the time to read and respond I wanted to give appropriate feedback. Thank you all again!
September 10, 2018 at 11:05 pm #246644
midwestmtbiker: Thank you for that insight! I know I’ve got a lot left to learn, especially when it comes to HT vs FS and the bikes I own. This of course will come down to practical experience. I need to remember that no bike comes from the LBS 100% tailored to you. There’s a reason components are adjustable and replaceable (aside from normal wear and tear). And therein lies the trial and error aspect, all again just part of the learning process. Better late than never!
September 10, 2018 at 11:16 pm #246645
rmap01: I have no idea how to go back and edit my posts, but your point about my impulse buying may be the most valid of all, lmao!!! I am blessed and cursed in the fact that my girlfriend will almost never tell me “no” when I want to buy something…new or old, whether I have none, one or a hundred, no matter what it is, if we can afford it, I can have it 🙂 but with my impulses, I may be the only guy ever who wished his girlfriend would say no!
September 12, 2018 at 9:35 am #246742
ronnied82, I’m a little late responding, and there have been great responses already. But, at the risk of repeating what was already said, I just wanted to share my experiences lately. I had been riding the same bike consistently for some time. More recently, I finally broke down and bought a new one. At first, I took it real easy on the new one, tweaking adjustments, etc., but mainly because I didn’t want to scratch it up right away. After having ridden it for a while, and being very comfortable pushing things on it, I decided to ride my older bike to see if the new bike is really any better than I hoped it was considering the cost (had to justify my investment I guess 🙂 ). I decided to ride the old bike on a familiar trail for comparison. Technically intermediate, it was a trail I could clean easy enough on the new bike now, and used to on the old one without much thought. Well, I lost count of the number of crashes I had riding the old bike that day, a bike that I rode this trail on for years without crashing! My long winded point, from my experience, I was simply not used to the old bike any more. I tore into that trail that day as though I had been riding the old bike all along. It was apparent I was now used to whatever idiosyncrasies there are with the new bike. Landing too far rearward or forward, wiping out on turns, losing it on cantered sections, etc. And boy did I loose it on steep technical descents. Seems things I normally accomplished subconsciously, I had to think about. Again, long winded point, I think you just need to get used to the new bike. Especially going from FS to hard tail. In my case, both bikes were FS, but different geometry (mainly wheel base and head tube angle). To be honest, if I were to jump on a hard tail, there is no way I would be able to ride anything like I do now. It would take time to get up to speed on it. Give the new bike a little time. It’s not in your head!
September 12, 2018 at 9:14 pm #246775
Completely psychological. Also, completely reasonable. As mentioned, you are going to have to recondition yourself to riding without unhealthy fear and that may take some time. Some amount of fear is healthy, it’s what makes us examine the risks we take.
But, as midwestmtnbiker notes, while there are many things various types of bikes are good at and can help you with, jumping is not really one of them. That one is almost completely rider technique. About the best a bike can do for you on a jump is survive it.
Ride. Take it easy. Don’t jump anything for a while, and when you do start small.
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